Updated at 10:17 p.m.
GARWOOD, NJ – Nobody was injured when part of a vacant factory building on North Avenue collapsed Wednesday morning, taking down power lines and causing outages that lasted until the early evening in both the borough and neighboring Westfield, authorities said.
North Avenue between Walnut and Lincoln reopened Wednesday night, Garwood Police announced at about 8:30 p.m., 12 hours after the collapse.
Fire Chief Allan Tweedle said that because it was leaning precariously, the Paperboard Factory building had been slated for demolition the night prior but rain in the forecast delayed the demolition.
“Luckily, one of the employees who was working on a piece of equipment came out and stopped everybody, so nobody was hurt,” Tweedle said, speaking on the scene. The collapse happened at 8:30 a.m. and workers were slated to complete the building demolition throughout the day, he said.
Later in the day, firefighters sprayed water to control dust control while the contractors took down the rest of the building, the Garwood Fire Department said in a statement posted to Facebook.
At 3:15 p.m., 571 customers in both Garwood and Westfield were without power, according to PSE&G’s outage map but by 10 p.m., PSE&G had restored power to all but a few customers in both municipalities.
With the temperature forecasted to rise to 89 degrees Wednesday, Garwood offered Borough Hall as a relief station, police said.
Two grocery stores were impacted, including the ShopRite in Garwood. An employee for ShopRite said the supermarket remained open but that only non-perishable items were available for purchase during the day. Vine Ripe Markets in Westfield closed for a short time due to the outage but was able to reopen later.
Union County’s Office of Emergency Management told authorities in Westfield Wednesday afternoon that North Avenue would remain closed between Walnut and Lincoln Avenues for at least 24 hours, but a Nixle alert sent by police at about 8:30 p.m. said the road had reopened.
The power outages had also impacted the county’s Westfield Offices on North Avenue, including the Froehlich and Fraser buildings, authorities said in a message posted to the town of Westfield’s Facebook page.
During the outage, both buildings operated on generator power, authorities said. The County Clerk’s Westfield office operated with limited service, the announcement stated.